Even though Yitzhak Shamir had the second longest tenure as prime minister of any Israel politician — only less than David Ben-Gurion — he is not often remembered as a dominant political figure.
Mr. Shamir, now 92, became prime minister following Menachem Begin’s sudden retirement in 1983. He was considered more “hawkish” or to the right, unwilling to give away biblical lands to the Arabs. He was a leader of the underground fighting unit, Lohamei Herut Israel, LEHI, fighting against the British.
Mr. Shamir served in the Mossad (a-Mossad le-Modiin ule-Tafkidim Meyuhadim, the Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks) for a decade, between 1955 and 1965.
During his term as prime minister, Mr. Shamir was faced with the Persian Gulf War (1991) and the more than 40 Iraqi SCUD attacks on Israel. Mr. Shamir decided not to retaliate — at the request of the Americans.
In the aftermath of Desert Storm, he attended the Madrid Conference, a three-day diplomatic event hosted by the government of Spain and co-sponsored by the U.S. and Russia (then the U.S.S.R.). The conference was meant to discuss peace between Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Mr. Shamir came with a hard-line position, which influenced his losing the election the next year to Yitzhak Rabin.